Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day Six: The Longest Day Can Be So Much Fun!

On The Way To Kourion
I had decided the night before that I would be overly tired to go out on the town with Stelios and his friends. However, we did make plans for him to come up to the hotel the evening of this, my last day in Cyprus. So my conscience was clear and as my eyes opened up to begin my day the only thought I had was will I survive this day of hectic schedule and ------most of all-----how am I going to get all these damn wine bottles in my suitcase for the trip back home.
Everyone wants to give you something! Wine was a given though it was difficult to refuse a gift with the excuse that "It will be too heavy in my luggage"! Sanyo Nuts gave me a huge amount of trail mix composed of almonds, walnuts, peanuts etc. Others gave me lace and so on.
I still had the large jar of walnut dessert that I had obtained during the first day of my visit to Kolani.
Thinking about what to do, I hopped out of bed and proceeded to shower and dress. I was saddened not to see Elena at breakfast as her smile made my day and since I had to leave at 4 AM next morning I really had no time to say goodbye.
I had my usual for breakfast and met Andri. We were off bright and early to Kourion to tour some historical sites.
 Steeped in antiquity, Kourion is said to have been founded by the Argive Greeks (from the city of Argos) however the earliest known settlement is dated at around 4500 to 3900 BC. It lasted until an earthquake destroyed it in the Middle Ages. There are some very intact sites in Kourion one of which truly impressed me.
Gladiator's Beware
Kourion’s Greco-Roman Amphitheatre could sit over 2000 people and was used for Gladiator events. As I stood in the middle of the amphitheatre I could imagine the wild crowds yelling---much like would happen today at a boxing or wrestling match but with one exception----the loser died. One thing was most impressive in this theatre. If I stood in one spot, I could hear my voice echoe throughout the theatre. No microphone was needed. If I stood a few inches in front or either side, nothing would happen.
House of Eustolios
Another, the House of Eustolios, consisted of a complex of baths and a number of rooms with 5th century A.D. mosaic floors, was once a private Roman villa. Later it became a public recreation centre during the Early Christian period. The House of Achilles and the House of the Gladiators also have beautiful mosaic floors.
There was much to see in Kourion and I left feeling that I had only scratched the surface of the story.
Andri was a wealth of information----she was more like a human encyclopedia but one could only take in so much.
Onward to Paphos (or Pafos) 
Paphos is the name of one of six districts made up of a number of small villages. Paphos is also the name of name of the capital city of the district.  It lies on the Mediterranean coast about fifty kms from Lemesos or Limassol. The city is an ancient one with many references to the Goddess Aphrodite. The city was also visited by Saint Paul in the 1st Century AD.
Paphos has been selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2017. It is also on the list of cultural and natural treasures of the World's heritage.  
Petra Tou Romiou
We stopped at the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite. The legend has it that Aphrodite was conceived by the God Zeus and an earth goddess. However many writings say that Aphrodite was born of the foam in the sea. The area she was born from "Petra Tou Romiou" means "Rock of the Greek" but is also known as "Aphrodite's Rock". Another legend has it that if one swims around the rock three times, he or she will become eternally handsome/beautiful. I was told that since that has already happened to me-----I didn't have to try (LOL)!  
Aphrodite was supposed to have been perfectly beautiful but a bit "stuck on herself". Her husband was a crippled god of forge and metal work however it is said that Aphrodite really liked Ares, God of War! Figures----women seem to like bad boys----even Goddesses!

Fikardos Winery, Mesogi Village (Paphos District)    
Located on the extreme south western slopes of the Troodos Mountains, Mesogi is a small village in a sense, whose time has come. Years ago it was in the country with a background of rolling hills but urbanization has caught up to it and the area that used to be farmland is now being built up. The village is still on the tour circuit however and is famed for its Basket Weaving.
The village also has another attraction and that is Fikardos Winery which is part of Fikardos Distileries Ltd. We met with owner/director Theodoros Fikardos who invited us in to taste his wines.
 Fikardos Winery makes a range of red, white and rosé local table wines. New French oak barrels are used for maturing some red wines, and for the fermentation of Chardonnay Fume Xilogefiro.
In addition to indigenous grapes Fikardos uses international grapes to create fresh, young, fruity wines in both varietal and blended styles, as well as wines suited to aging.
Theo invited us to taste his wines from "barrel" and one by one we tasted about 14 different wines. It is hard to say which I liked best since most were not yet mature but certainly his wines---even though immature from the tank (barrel) showed so much promise. I did enjoy his Xynisteri/Semilion blends as well as his Cabernet/Matro Blends. His Maratheftiko also impressed me.
We had a great visit and a great chat. Then it was time to move on to our next destination on this long but very interesting day. During all this I kept on thinking----man, I will not feel like getting up at two thirty tomorrow morning.
Latchi Fishing Shelter    
Latchi transformed from a fishing shelter into a full grown marina and a fish meze along with aperitifs  is the rule of the day.It is hard to believe that this "shelter" was only a decade old. 
Back then and before, Latchi consisted of carob warehouses and just one restaurant, Yangos & Peter. Nowadays Latchi has become one of the major attractions of the area and is nationwide known as the best place to eat fish.
Latchi also used to be the main area for sponge diving but an unknown disease killed all of the sponges, putting an end to the trade . 
After a very brief look at the Fishing Shelter we were off to Akamas!
In Akamas and Baths of Aphrodite
By now those who read my blogs know that I try to include as much history as "untiringly" possible. One can just beleaguer to the point of boredom. It is also apparent that every part of Cyprus---including even every particle of sand on its beaches----is steeped in history. Akama is no exception but I will be very brief.
It is named after the son of Theseus (Minotaur, Argonauts) Acamas who apparently was one of those who hid in the Trojan Horse during the war with Troy.
It lies in he extreme north-west part of Cyprus and geographically rises on one side and declines sharply on the other (Promontory).
The area is famous for its environmental features such as a breeding ground for Loggerhead Turtles as well as a sanctuary for many species of flora and fauna. It is also home to the legendary "Baths of Aphrodite".  
Baths of Aphrodite 
Just past Latchi Fishing Shelter and on Akama's tip is situated the famous baths where she used to bathe. This natural pool grotto surrounded in greenery lies at the end of a small nature trail. Myth also has it that this is where Aphrodite met her lover, the handsome Adonis (Man she really got around! Reminds me of someone I know!) when he stopped off for a drink while hunting. The moment he drank the water, Adonis fell in love with the goddess. I tried some of the water but the only reflection I saw was my own and------really decided against it!!!!!
Andri and walked down the very charming Nature Trail with its many interesting types of flora. Not too much fauna with the exception of some birds.  The day made this trail even more beautiful however as it is situated on one of the best and most scenic points in Cyprus.
Baths of Aphrodite Restaurant
We stopped off at this restaurant and were seated at the most gorgeous scenic view overlooking the quaint beach and the blue Mediterranean. I could see people snorkeling and sunbathing some one hundred feet below.
The food was amazing and of course it was fish Meze style. We got the works, fish of several varieties, shrimp, calamari, vegetables and on and on. Everything was done to perfection and was ----ever so fresh. Of course there were the usual attributes such as bread, olives, yoghurt and wine. I had my usual coffee---must have looked bad--me, a supposed wine writer opting for coffee. You know, I never really thought about that---maybe better change my ways OR---start writing about coffee instead!
Droushia Village      
About five to ten kms from where we were lies the Droushia Village with its old stone houses, carved doors and excellent scenery where one can view so much in so little time. From here one can see the Troodos in the distance or Akamas or the Mediterranean.
Here we visited the "Sapfo"  (or Sappho) Agrotourism House (N.B. Throughout this trip, I have found that the spelling of certain names changed from one particular writing or another so I usually put down two versions should there be any conflict).
Sapfo Traditional Agrotourism House or Sappho Manor House
Located in the center of Drousia village, The building was built in 1912. It was renovated and reconstructed to its original look using all similar materials to the original and under the strict supervision of the Cyprus authorities.There are  seven spacious apartments all with  their own bathroom/toilet facilities and kitchenette.The property is thoroughly modernized and has a strikingly nice swimming pool. 
After the short stay at the Manor House we were off to see historical sites at the "Tombs of Kings" not far from Pafos town.
Tomb of Kings

  The "Tombs of the Kings" is the impressive necropolis that is located just outside the walls  north and east of Pafos town. It was built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.). The 'Tombs of the Kings' was the place where the higher administrative officers and personalities as well as the members of their families were buried. The necropolis was continuously used as a burial area during 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.). Christians may also have used the site for their burials. The tombs may also have been used to house groups of people during the Middle Ages.
Most of the tombs are characterized by an underground, open aired rectangular courtyard carved into the natural rock.  Doric style pillars supported the porticoes in the yard. The burial chambers were dug into the walls.
The construction was impressive and must have taken many years to complete. Sad that the tombs were looted in the past. So much could have been learned.
Andri and I were soon off to our almost last stop of the day----The Mosaics at Pafos (Paphos).
Mosaics Galore  
The Mosaics of Pafos are represented by several Roman villas each having a thematic point to it.
The House of Dionysos (2nd Century AD) concerned mainly the God of Wine. The House of Theseus (2nd Century AD) dealt with mythology such as  Theseus killing the Minotaur.  The House of Aion (4th Century AD) shows more mosaics about Greek Mythology such as "Leda and the Swan", "Dionysos's Bath", "Dionysos's March". 
The House of Orpheus (3rd Century AD) had more legendary mythology in the depiction of Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion. In The House of Four Seasons (3rd Century AD) each of the four seasons were depicted by a mosaic---all were female with the exception of Winter which was depicted as male-----could he be the original "Man For All Seasons"? 
In all the mosaics had everything one wanted and has even today in movies---kinky sex, violence, lesbian affairs, incest and of course hunting. It seems that the Greeks (and Romans) didn't live by war and conquest alone. They stopped off and had some fun also.
Bye the time we finished our tour of the Mosaics, we were starting to get tired. It was quite a schedule but it was worth it. As I said before, Andri was such a wealth of knowledge and a charmer that she made time fly by.
We went to our last destination and that was Pafos harbour.
Pafos harbour is a very beautiful spot which has a lovely marina and many cafes and restaurtants. The athmosphere is electric in watching all the people sitting, having a coffee or smoke and enjoying the summer sun. Boats come and go and the smiles are everywhere. 
Andri and I had a cappuccino and a smoke. We then said adieu to the area and then back to the hotel where she and I parted ways. It was all good.
I went back to my room to get a call from Stelios who wanted to pass by for a visit. 
It was around eight thirty when Stel.came to visit and we met in the lounge of the Med Beach Hotel. We had some Cypriot beer and talked about the trip. He also bought me a litre of singel malt Glenfiddich scotch which I thought was over the top considering the price but he said that the icewine I gave him was also expensive in Cyprus so we were even. We had become good friends  but all good things must come to an end and we had to part and I had to get ready for the trip home.
End of Day Six